بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
“…truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace” [Surat Ar-Ra’d, 13:28]
How long did your last prayer take? 10 minutes? Hm, not quite. 6 minutes? Closer but not quite there either… 4? Sort of. Maybe 3? That sounds just about right. Or sometimes it’s 2 minutes. Wow- that means we effectively spend 10minutes out of 1440 minutes in a day remembering God.
Why do we think that is? Some answers from people have included heedlessness, a lot going on in our heads thus a lack of focus, too much work to do, not knowing how to concentrate and so on.
But if our 2 minute prayers are a regular thing, then there a root cause. I believe it is a lack of remembrance of God. Although there have been a few tarbiyas on the virtues of remembering God, it is something that we should be reminded of often. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“…and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” [Surat Al-Ahzaab, 33:35]
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Do not talk for long without remembering Allah, for talking much without remembering Allah is hardness of the heart. The most distant among man from Allah is one with a hardened heart.” [Tirmidhi] This is directly related to feeling far from God and being unable to be in prayer in true devotion. If we spend 5 hours engrossed in dunya, how so we expect that our hearts will be prepared for their meeting with God during prayer? So our prayer is rushed, without concentration. We then have 3 hours of pure dunya again, and we go to our prayer with a heart that has hardened further.
So what can we do to break this cycle? Remembrance of Allah comes in many ways, and here I will list three ways inshAllah:
We need to have an active relationship with God. It should not be one that starts and ends with prayer. Rather we should be feeling His presence whatever we do and wherever we go. To do this, we need to discipline ourselves by doing certain things until they become second nature. Start your day by taking 5 minutes to talk to God- “I hope to do this and that today, please help me accomplish my tasks. Please help me to see your power and grace in everything” [<– just an example]
Then try to incorporate the meaning of this verse in your day “…and He is with you wherever you are” [Surat al-Hadeed, 57:4] When you step out your door and look at the sky, appreciate the natural beauty that you see. Thank God that He has created such subtle miracles which we take for granted. If you find yourself in the tube at rush hour and someone steps on your foot, remember that anything little thing that harms, God will have forgiven a sin of yours. So instead of cursing, smile. As you walk to work, thank God that you actually have legs to walk. Tie everything in with Allah.
When you come to your prayer, trust me, it will different. Your heart will already be soft because it is filled with the remembrance of God. When you enter into prayer, even if you feel rushed because you have a lot of work, take on minute to remember that you will now be having a conversation with God. What could be more important than that?
Imagine you spend time with someone talking on your blackberry- it is still different when you are actually having an intimate conversation with them. And that is what the prayer is- an intimate dialogue between you and Allah.
The Prophet (pbuh) was constantly in the remembrance of God, such that he made even the mundane an act of worship. He taught us words to say in the mornings and evenings, du’as for when we leave the house and when we come back, when we wake up, before we sleep, when we eat and so on. We should pledge to memorize at least one every week, and try hard to implement it that week at least. Then even acts such as stepping out of your house will be done while your heart is at rest- because you are thinking of Him.
Remember, if you want to feel that Allah is with you at all times, all you need to do is remember Him. Afterall, He told us:
“So remember Me; I will remember you” [Surat al-Baqara, 2:152]